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JuJu Watkins drops 51 points in USC’s upset win over Stanford

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 02: JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans drives towards the basket past Talana Lepolo #10 of the Stanford Cardinal in the second quarter at Stanford Maples Pavilion on February 02, 2024 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

JuJu Watkins cemented herself among the best players in the country on Friday, exploding for 51 points against No. 4 Stanford as No. 15 USC pulled off the upset, 67-58.

It was the first 50-point game in D-I this season and broke USC’s school record. It was also the second-most points in a Pac-12 game – Kelsey Plum had 57 against Utah in 2017 – and it was the most points that a D-I player has scored against an AP top-10 opponent in the last 25 seasons.

“Every time I scored, all I heard was oooooh,” Watkins said. “It wasn’t even like a boo. I was like, ‘All right.’ It was crazy.”

In addition to her jaw-dropping points total, Watkins had 11 rebounds and four steals. According to ESPN Stats & Information, she’s the only D-I freshman in the last 25 seasons to have 50 points and 10 rebounds in a game.

USC totaled 67 points, meaning that Watkins scored 76% of the Trojans’ total. Only three other Trojans got points on the board.

“All week I said, ‘This kid is different,'” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “She’s special, the way she takes coaching, the way she’s a teammate, the way she holds herself accountable, the way she raises her level. So I did not predict this, but I think that what is so special about her is everything inside, and then obviously it came out today in a way that, if you love basketball, I don’t know how you’re not blown away.”

Watkins had 40 points by the end of the third quarter, having gone into the half with 25. Her 15 points in the third quarter helped USC withstand a late run by Stanford.

For Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, this “probably goes right up there at the top” when it comes to freshman performances she’s seen.

“Once she got going,” VanDerveer said, “the basket got really big for her.”

The reaction on social media was immediate, from USC quarterback Caleb Williams to A’ja Wilson tweeting out, “Sheeshhhh Ju !!”

Others like DeMar DeRozan, Chelsea Gray and Aliyah Boston were also in awe.